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Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory Collection

Identifier: MSS-699-SC

Scope and Content

The majority of this collection consists of materials relating to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and its role in World War II. Press releases from the War Department relay background information on the Atomic Bomb Project, the town of Los Alamos, and J. Robert Oppenheimer and Leslie Groves who were key project personnel.

The Association of Los Alamos Scientists published The Los Alamos Newsletter weekly. The purpose of this publication was to "outline current news pertaining to the development, formulation, and operation of national and international control of atomic energy, and to provide news of the activities of the Association and its committees... Issues 1-6 of this newsletter are contained in this collection.

Correspondence congratulates Los Alamos employees for their role in ending the war, and addresses continued security issues. Dr. Oppenheimer accepted a War Department scroll/production award for the Lab. A copy of the award program and his speech are included in the collection, as is another speech given by Oppenheimer at a meeting of the Association of Los Alamos Scientists (November, 1945), in which he philosophizes about the role of science and scientists and discusses the far-reaching impact of the atomic bomb.

Excerpts of articles from the Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, and New Mexico Magazine provide some of the first descriptions of the "mystery city, when the war was won and the press blackout was finally relaxed. A visitor's brochure provides basic information and a map of Los Alamos.

Finally, the collection contains a bulletin/annual report, instructions, and service record form for the Bernalillo County Home Defense Unit. The Unit was organized on December 8, 1941, with members being commissioned as deputy sheriffs to assist authorities.


  • 1942-1963
  • Majority of material found within 1942-1949


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with ll copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publiction or distribution.

Historical Information

Secretary of War, Henry Stimson notified the Los Alamos Ranch School via a letter dated December 1, 1942, that the Army planned to take over their property in February 1943. The property would be converted to a secret nuclear weapons design laboratory, under the direction of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The site was chosen because of its isolation, because the climate was conducive to year round work, and because the topography was appropriate for dispersal of many facilities.

Although the Los Alamos Ranch School provided some housing and office facilities, the new laboratory required construction of technical buildings, barracks, family housing, office space, streets, utilities, an infirmary, etc. Construction proved challenging because Los Alamos was far from sources of labor and construction materials, 40 miles from the nearest railroad, roads were inadequate, there was insufficient water, no natural gas and a limited electrical supply.

Less than 2 1/2 years after Los Alamos was formally opened, the scientists had succeeded in producing a nuclear weapon. On August 6 and 9, 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the first atomic bombs used in warfare, leading to the end of World War II. The war's end saw many technical and military personnel leave Los Alamos. Passage of the Atomic Energy Act in 1946 secured the future of the Los Alamos Project, under the direction of the Atomic Energy Commission, and under civilian rather than military management.


1 Folder


The majority of this collection consists of materials relating to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and its role in World War II. Press releases, newsletters, speeches by J. Robert Oppenheimer, correspondence to laboratory employees, and excerpts from news stories about Los Alamos and the Atom Bomb Project comprise the bulk of this small collection.

Related Archival Material

Ralph Carlisle Smith Collection of Papers on Los Alamos, N.M. Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Los Alamos Vertical Files. Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Ferenc M. Szasz Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Publications have been transferred to UNM University Libraries for cataloguing.
Finding Aid of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory Collection, 1942-1963
For Approval
Processed by B. Silbergleit
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 699 SC::Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory Collection)//EN" "nmu1mss699sc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131